This is a definite one-dish dinner; all you need is a nice green salad and glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or white Bordeaux to complete it. Prep: 20 minutes; Bake: 1 hour 25 minutes; Cook: 11 minutes.
4 sweet potatoes, washed
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, split down back*
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 shallots, quartered
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried French green lentils, rinsed and drained**
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil, and bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until soft when squeezed. Remove from oven, and set aside.
Rinse chicken, and pat dry; remove any excess skin or fat. Sprinkle all over with sea salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, and add chicken, breast side down. Cook until skin is crispy and brown, about 10 minutes. Turn chicken over, add garlic and shallot, and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add vinegar, wine, and broth; stir, scraping up all browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in lentils, and add more sea salt and pepper.
Transfer skillet to oven, and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until lentils are tender and juices from chicken thighs run clear or meat thermometer registers 170°.
Peel reserved sweet potatoes, and mash with a potato masher. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cut chicken into 8 serving pieces. Place a spoonful of sweet potato on each plate, and top with lentils, shallots, and a piece of chicken. Spoon cooking liquid over and around chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with tarragon. Serve warm.
*For ease, ask a butcher to do this for you.
**You can substitute regular brown lentils, but the French green variety has more depth of flavor.
If this recipe doesn't change your life, you're dead inside. Seriously, after making this, I don't even know who I am anymore. This dish is so good that when I made it for my sister, it caused both of us to have simultaneous existential breakdowns. We don't know whether to believe anything we've ever learned, if our careers are truly fulfilling, who our real friends are, or if wearing pants is merely a social construct. The combination of white wine and tarragon actually spoke to us...in Chaucerian English no less.
We altered it a bit by using just thighs and putting a mixture of tarragon, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper under the skin before browning it and skipping the white wine vinegar, but I think it's possible to experience Nirvana by closely following the directions here, as well. If you don't make this for the people you love, you might as well pack a bindle, kiss your ferret goodbye, and flee your home as quickly as you can. Your family and friends deserve better. In your travels, find a blues guitarist and write songs about how you missed a chance at unbridled happiness because you decided to make chicken fingers and fries instead of this dish that could only be inspired by angels and unicorn tears.
For real, though. This is amazing.